Once upon a time, sixty years ago (now nearly 150 years ago), a little girl lived in the big woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs. With that opening scene, Laura Ingalls Wilder launched the Little House book series that eventually became a key piece of American culture. But, did you know, that despite her stories of little houses on the prairies of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, and the Dakota Territory, Laura Ingalls Wilder actually spent a majority of her life in the tiny town of Mansfield, Missouri? This episode features Pulitzer Prize-winning author Caroline Fraser talking about her recent book, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. In her award-winning book, Fraser provides a stunning account of the events that not only shaped Laura Ingalls Wilder's life but also inspired her later literary masterpieces.
Caroline Fraser holds a PhD in English and American Literature from Harvard University. She is the author of God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church and Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution. Additionally, she served as editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Her work has also appeared in the New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and Outside Magazine, among others. Her most recent book, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, Plutarch Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Biography.